The Valleys – Valley High School, Emergency Command Centre
Tag: Um… Altai? I can get in. I know how to get into the back of the mine.
All the heads in the room suddenly turned as one towards the source of the small voice. The silence pervaded to all corners of the room with stunned surprise and disbelief.
The awkward silence continued for a moment until Altai addressed Tag directly.
Altai: Yes, Tag – could you please explain?
Tag: Well… um… when we were camping last summer up by the hot rocks we found a cave which was connected to a lava tube…
Tag then explained how he, Jaak and Dieter had found an old lava field down a side track near the hot creek river and a small cave. He described how he and Jaak had wormed their way through the labyrinth of small lava tubes, where eventually he was able to find his way right into the back workings of Big John’s Mine. One or two slight elbows and purposeful looks from Jaak, reminded him not to mention passing through the blue cavern full of glowing cyan stones.
Tag: Yeah, the last tube was so small not even Jaak could get through that one – but I sure could!
Altai: So this cave and entrance you found, on the old lava field next to the river – do you think you could find it again?
Tag and Jaak were both ready for this question and they answered together enthusiastically.
Tag & Jaak: We sure can!
Altai wasting no further time, cleared his throat and addressed the assembled rescue team.
Altai: Well in that case we need to make a plan, gather our equipment and get you boys up there with a team as soon as we can.
What’s that side track like down to the river? From what I remember, that track is pretty steep and narrow, and it will be slippery and icy – can we even get trucks down there?
Layan: My buggy can get down there – if there is a track I can drive it!
The plan was made. A team of rescuers would take their trucks as far up the hot creek trail as they could and Layan would then ferry the rescuers and equipment down the narrow side track in his smaller all terrain buggy, to the clearing by the river.
The Valleys – Hot Creek Side Trail
The rescue team had made their way as far as they could up the main trail with their trucks, to where the side track left the main Hot Creek trail. The track was indeed much too steep and narrow for large vehicles, however for Layan and his all terrain buggy it was no problem all. At break neck speed he roared up and down the track, whipping past trees and boulders, a blur of red on white interspersed with green and brown, wet snow and mud sent flying in all directions. More than one of his passengers was quite glad to scramble out of the wild scream machine that had taken them sliding, bucking and bouncing, to the clearing at the bottom of the track.
Layan took charge of forward operations and the team quickly arranged their equipment and set up tents, complete with radio link to report back to the Emergency Command Centre.
The rescue team tried to kit the two boys out with protective overalls and helmets, but Tag just laughed.
Tag: Yeah, nah… don’t need any of that stuff, the tunnels are so tight that I might have to crawl through nekkid!
Dressed only in his usual shorts he patted his bare chest
I’m good to go!
Tag and Jaak did however take a small bag loaded with high energy snack bars and some bottled water. The plan was for the boys to try and make contact with the trapped miners and then come back and report.
Tag and Jaak then led the way up to the old lava field picking their way carefully though the rock, snow and ice to the opening of the small cave.
Jaak: Here it is!
The others peered into the gloom of the small cave which did at first glance seem quite unremarkable. The two boys entered the cave and then right at the end, behind an outcrop of rock, they slipped neatly into the fissure leading to the first lava tube and out of sight.
Despite being just as narrow as before and with its many twists and turns, the tunnel did not seem quite so long the second time around. It did not take the two boys long to emerge into Layan’s cave that still bore his 12 ¾ years old inscription.
Jaak: Well that’s one tube down! Now I know what a worm feels like!
They did not stop long in Layan’s cave, eager to tackle the second lava tube that would take them into the blue cavern.
Tag: You go first!
Jaak then pushed the food bag into the crack in front of him that opened into the next and narrower tube followed by himself. Fortunately, Jaak remembered that this tube was not too long and with a few good wiggles he managed to pop both the bag and his head out into the main chamber of the blue cavern. Close behind was Tag and soon the boys were standing once again, gazing at the breath taking sight of countless cyan stones, all glowing with their cool blue light. At the centre of the cavern the spire like formation of blue crystals also shone brightly. The boys crossed to the other side of the cavern, carefully avoiding the corpus bugaarium shells still littering the floor, searching for the small crack that led to the mine. This time however there was no tell tale sound of machinery or even voices to guide them. After several minutes of looking, they thought they had found what they were looking for.
Tag: Do you reckon this is it?
Jaak put his head down and listened carefully, and also to see if there was the puff of air that they had felt previously.
Jaak: I’m sure this is it – but it sounds awfully quiet and there isn’t any air coming out.
They both looked at the tiny crack in the cave wall. It still looked impossibly small to Jaak. There was simply no way he would fit. It was now up to Tag.
Jaak: Leave the food bag here with me, and just go and see if you can find the miners. If you find them, then come back for the food and water.
Tag then stuck his head and upper body into the crack, however his shorts kept getting caught on the edges of the opening. No matter which way he twisted his body he just couldn’t quite get the lower half of his body through. Finally a frustrated and muffled voice came back to Jaak.
Jaak: What? I can’t hear you properly!
Tag: Shorts! Pull. Them. Off!
Now Jaak realised what Tag was saying and with only a moments hesitation, he pulled both Tag’s shorts and undies off, leaving his bare butt and tail still sticking out from the cave wall. Then with a final determined twist and flick of his tail Tag finally disappeared into the last tube to hopefully find the trapped miners.
As before just like the first time, there was nothing for Jaak to do but wait.
And again look at the huge exoskeleton corpus bugaarium shells – and wonder, and gaze at the soft blue glow of the myriad of cyan stones.